Growing up with dyslexia – Medical News Bulletin

Mental Health


Living with dyslexia can be overwhelming, the reason early diagnosis of this learning disability is critical. At the least, it will allow those afflicted by it to better understand why they struggle with language and comprehension differently from some of their peers.

As a parent or child with dyslexia, you will be well aware that apart from language disability and ability to communicate the effects can be far reaching. When a person you love struggles with listening, speaking and writing, the suffering is felt by all.

Causes of dyslexia

Researchers have still not been able to pinpoint what exactly causes dyslexia, but it is seen that people with the disorder have some neurological differences from people who don’t.

Experts have come to the conclusion that the portion of the brain that links the two hemispheres, commonly known as the corpus callosum may be different with people with dyslexia, especially some parts of the left hemisphere. What is not clear is if there are any other differences in people with dyslexia apart from this one only.

Some researchers have identified genes connected to these brain differences, which leads them to suggest a genetic link to dyslexia, like kids with primary dyslexia have had parents with dyslexia more often than not, apart from other hereditary factors.

Different kinds of dyslexia

There are three main types of dyslexia. While primary dyslexia is the most common, secondary dyslexia is responsible for problems with brain development. Finally there is trauma dyslexia which occurs after a brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing.

Symptoms

Signs of dyslexia differ from person to person and can be difficult to recognise early, but there are some clues which may indicate that a problem exists. Some early signs that a person may be at risk of dyslexia are as under:

  • Grasping new words slowly
  • Learning to speak late
  • Difficulty in forming words correctly
  • Problems with naming letters and colours
  • Difficulty in playing rhyming games or reciting nursery rhymes
  • Spending a long time involving reading and writing tasks
  • Finding maths problems tough to solve
  • Social skills
  • Time management

Dyslexia may look different in different students, that is why it is pertinent to keep in constant touch with the child’s tutors as reading gradually becomes more and more part of their school routine.

When to seek help

Some people cringe at the thought of reaching out for help for dyslexia, fearing others and family members label them as a mental disability.

It is best to talk with a doctor or a caregiver once the reading level of the patient falls below what is expected of the age of the individual or if other signs of dyslexia are apparent. If the malady goes untreated or undiagnosed the difficulties may continue well into adulthood.

It is important to understand that it takes time for a doctor to make a correct diagnosis for dyslexia. They first have to rule out other possibilities which are causing the reading problem.Depending on your condition your paediatrician may refer you to any of the following dyslexia professionals:

  • Paediatric psychologist
  • Clinical  psychologist
  • Speech pathologist
  • Learning disabilities psychologist
  • Neurologist
  • Ophthalmologist.
  • Audiologist (learning specialist)

Struggling readers and writers can also find dyslexia reading programs that have been created especially for oral language, phonemic awareness, spelling, writing and vocabulary comprehension. It is for you to decide which works best for the person living with dyslexia.

Some reading programs use these techniques that might be of immense help for parents, caregivers and teachers as listed below:

  • Show the dyslexic students different approaches to help them understand what they are reading.
  • Simultaneous use of multiple senses to help the student or individual to connect words with sounds
  • Strengthen a person’s ability and awareness to work with different spoken words.
  • Find ways to make reading exciting and fun

While early treatment is the best option for a good outcome, it is never too late for people with dyslexia to start learning to improve their language skills.

Growing up with the specific learning disability

Interestingly, some people term dyslexia as an asset, rather than a hindrance, that has helped them grow better. Successful entrepreneurs like Disney co- founder and Virgin group founder Richard Branson have not only overcome this disability but have been able to create a brand name for themselves.

To understand this we must first know what dyslexia actually is. Dyslexia in reality is a learning disorder that is caused by those areas of the brain that find it difficult to comprehend language.

People do not outgrow dyslexia, rather the symptoms tend to vary with age. However, with the appropriate care, those with dyslexia can succeed in school and further in life.

Growing up with dyslexia is not easy. Like many others with dyslexia, going through elementary, middle, high school and eventually college is stressful.

Fellow students or classmates will always tell you that you are no good, lazy and poor in securing marks. The psychological effect of this can be very depressing. So read on to learn how dyslexia affects people as they grow up.

  • Preschool: Children by the age of 3, or sometimes even earlier can show symptoms of dyslexia though they do not read. Children who don’t utter their first words until 15 months or their first phrase until 2 years have a higher rate of developing dyslexia.That said, any delay in starting to speak is an early indication of dyslexia. Dyslexia is also known to run deep in families, therefore parents who have had this difficulty before should pay special attention to the development of the child.
  • Elementary school: An individual’s inability to recognise words and connect them with sounds becomes more evident when in elementary school. Some typical indications are having confusion in sounds and letter shapes, trouble telling left from right or making mistakes while reading out loud. Dslexic students may even find reading books frustrating and boring.
  • Middle school: School work during middle grades becomes exceedingly demanding with regards to writing and reading.There is an inherent risk of falling far behind your classmates if dyslexia is left untreated. Essay writing and vocabulary may become hard for them. Additional symptoms around the age of 11 years could include poor handwriting, social isolation and low self-esteem.
  • High school and college: The major issue which crops up for dyselexic students in high school or college is the extremely slow reading pace.This makes it very difficult for them to complete an assignment in the time allotted. High school and college students with dyslexia may also struggle to find the right word to use, learn a foreign language, be unable to understand puns or consider themselves dumb and worry about academic progress, despite getting good grades.
  • Adults and workplace: Unfortunately, if not treated in time, dyslexia poses a far greater challenge in adulthood and the workplace. At this age, this may take different forms altogether by displaying symptoms like difficulty in understanding the building structure of common communication, poor working memory and limited ability to process visual information. Additional issues could include difficulty in remembering numbers,lists, saying ‘um’ a lot and forgetting names frequently.

Treatment

Several dyslexia research programs have shown that phonics instruction can be of significant help in improving dyslexia in students.

These instructions are basically a combination of fluent reading and phonemic awareness strategies which involve studying letters and the sounds associated with them.

These phonic interventions are best provided by a specialist who is an expert in reading difficulties. The longer the dyslexic student receives these interventions,the better the outcome will be.

What parents can do

A parent is the child’s most important and effective ally who can do a whole lot of good to increase a child’s ability to read and rise academically. Some suggestions are:

  • Early intervention: As soon as you or the school teacher notice symptoms, it is important to get an evaluation done. A trusted dyslexia test is the Shaywitz Dyslexia Screen Test.
  • Speak to your child: Engage your child in an honest dialogue by discussing solutions to stay positive. Remind yourself and your child that dyslexia has nothing to do with any intelligence informity.
  • Pace yourself: The sooner you rescind yourself to the fact that there is no established cure for dyslexia, the better for both you and the child. Since you will be dealing with the disorder for some time, it is better to cover one milestone at a time. Try and develop a hobby, other than reading, for your child in order to celebrate success in another field.

Final thoughts

Dyslexia is a lifelong problem, but there are a range of specialist interventions that can help dyslexics with their reading and writing, especially if these are implemented at an early stage.

The type and extent of the intervention will depend upon the severity of the child’s difficulties, for which a special intervention plan can be drawn up.

While many consider it as a hindrance in life, in general most have been able to overcome this hurdle and prove their worth, either at home or their workplace, by converting this disadvantage to their strength.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi at Pexels


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